Recently, Ben and Jerry discussed qualified immunity (QI) on MSNBC’s The Beat with Ari Melber. On the program, host Ari Melber remarks how Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield do work that “supports their views on justice and equality.” As Ari Melber indicates, Ben and Jerry’s current work focuses on ending QI.
After the death of George Floyd, the co-founders of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream wanted to know why bad cops often go unpunished. The answer, they found out, is qualified immunity. QI, Ari Melber says, is one of the “key doctrines that changes the way police are held accountable, if ever, in American courts.”
Ben and Jerry believe it’s time to hold police accountable. They want to end qualified immunity for bad cops. So, they started the Campaign to End Qualified Immunity (CTEQI).
“If you want to get something done…in the right way, you’ve got to hold people accountable,” Ben tells Ari Melber. And ending qualified immunity “is all about accountability.”
However, not everyone is keen on ending qualified immunity. For example, Senate Republicans are against eliminating the doctrine. They believe QI helps all cops. That’s why qualified immunity, says MSNBC’s Ari Melber, is “a sticking point” in the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.
Jerry Greenfield disagrees with Republicans. He doesn’t believe that QI helps cops. On the contrary, Jerry thinks QI is “a sham.”
Jerry explains to Ari Melber that because there’s no accountability, “there is no trust between communities and the police who serve them.” This lack of trust is bad for cops—the good ones who honor the badge. These good cops want to serve their communities. But QI drives a deep wedge.
Raising awareness around qualified immunity is a priority for Ben and Jerry. As they tell MSNBC’s Ari Melber, along with establishing CTEQI, they also launched a QI podcast, UNACCOUNTABLE. And Ben wrote a book on the doctrine, Above the Law. The point of these endeavours, they explain, is to help people take action.
As they wrap up on The Beat with Ari Melber, Ben and Jerry urge viewers to call on Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act and end QI. “This is the moment…when your voice counts the most in terms of [eliminating] qualified immunity,” Ben says.